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Junior Game Designer

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Similar Titles

  • Associate Game Designer
  • Assistant Game Designer
  • Game Design Associate
  • Game Design Assistant

Tools

Most Used:

  • Unreal Engine (Blueprints)
  • Unity
  • Scripting Languages (Lua)
  • Excel

Good to Know:

  • Adobe Suite
  • Maya
  • Blender
  • Git
  • Confluence
  • Jira or Trello
  • Slack or Microsoft Teams

Role Summary

A Junior Game Designer is an integral part of the game creation team, actively assisting in the shaping and realisation of game designs, they help to bring conceptual ideas closer to playable experiences. Their role predominantly involves supporting the development of game mechanics, collaborating on system creation, and aiding in the iterative refinement processes. A significant aspect of their day-to-day tasks is interfacing with different departments, ensuring that game elements align with the broader vision and undergo essential testing phases.

Candidates interested in this role should exhibit a passion for game dynamics and a curiosity to understand player behaviours. Being effective team players, they should be open to feedback and keen on integrating different game elements harmoniously. As they delve into the realm of game design, Junior Game Designers serve as the connective tissue, helping to bring conceptual ideas closer to playable experiences.

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Knowledge

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The specific understanding around software tools and techniques, terminology and the responsibilities of the role. 
  • Familiarity with basic game design principles and understanding what makes game mechanics tick.
  • Awareness of the fundamental responsibilities a Game Designer holds within a game development team.
  • Has a clear concept of scripting languages like Lua and Unreal Blueprints.
  • Beginning to grasp the nuances of target markets, platforms, and adapting designs accordingly.
  • Understanding of the basics of game engines.
  • Insight into game theory and its potential impact on game design and strategy.

Skills

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The specific proficiency around technical skills, the types of creative and problem solving abilities, and areas of communication and adaptability.
  • Ability to effectively communicate and collaborate within a team.
  • Has the capacity to bring critical thinking into discussions, offering fresh perspectives.
  • Beginning skills in verbal and written communication, ensuring clarity in conveying ideas.
  • Capable of assisting with the creation and management of design documentation.
  • Shows a budding skill in using Excel for basic data management tasks.
  • Demonstrated ability to observe and understand player behaviour, offering insights into player-centric designs.
  • Ability to identify challenges and actively brainstorm solutions.
  • Beginning understanding of game development engines such as Unity and Unreal.

Behaviour

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In relation to the capabilities around working within the team, and the expectations when it comes to professionalism or commitments to the role and company culture.
  • Exhibits a genuine enthusiasm for continuous learning, always looking for opportunities to grow.
  • Displays an approachable and team-oriented demeanour, conducive to a positive working environment.
  • Embodies a balance of confidence in known areas, yet always keen to learn more.
  • Maintains a constructive attitude towards feedback, valuing its role in personal and professional growth.
  • Shows a proactive approach in task organisation and seeking help when needed.
  • Radiates a commitment to effective cross-discipline collaboration in game projects.

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What to expect in the day to day duties:

  • Entrusted with the task of supporting the development and maintenance of game features and systems to align with player engagement goals.
  • Plays a key role in liaising with Art and Code departments, ensuring design integrations adhere to set standards.
  • Tasked with staying abreast of industry trends, incorporating this knowledge into design contributions.
  • Charged with the duty of assisting in the creation and updating of design documentation.
  • Assigned with the responsibility of integrating player feedback from playtests to refine game elements.
  • Committed to presenting game ideas and solutions under guidance, aiming to sync with the team's vision.
  • Responsible for analysing competitor games, aiming to derive insights that could influence our game design.

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Interview One

Did you undergo any specific training or education (formal or informal) that you think was beneficial in obtaining your current role?

Yes - BSc Computer Games Development

Describe your journey into your current role in the gaming industry.

In 2020 I Decided to go back to university and enrol a course to become a game developer, this after playing The Last of Us series. I started applying for jobs during my second year and got into the internship program as a Game Designer.

What experiences or qualifications were most critical in securing your current role?

Knowledge of programming and various softwares as well as good communication skills

What were some of the challenges you faced when trying to get into the industry, and how did you overcome them? Do you have any advice for individuals trying to get into your role?

Being a woman coming from another country, being also in my thirties and middle class.

Lack of awareness of the game industry in general and roles in specific.

Interview Two

Did you undergo any specific training or education (formal or informal) that you think was beneficial in obtaining your current role?

Advanced Diploma in Game Development and Design, and lots of self-study

Describe your journey into your current role in the gaming industry.

I was a hobby game developer since middle school, making small clones of board games and flash games using python for my own satisfaction. After school, I considered game development as a serious profession and took a 4 month Coursera course to see if I could imagine myself doing this for a living. I resonated with the course material, and signed up to do a 1-year Advanced Diploma in Game Design and Development from a local college in my city. There I learned programming in C and C++, how to use Unity, and some basic game and level design. However, the course quality was poor and most of what I learned was from networking directly with the professors and taking on extra assignments.

Most local companies work on free-to-play or gambling titles that I find ethically problematic and creatively uninspiring to work on. Instead, I collaborated with a friend to make an indie puzzle game in 6 months and released it as my capstone project. The game was a design success with good player reviews, and attracted a publisher.

What experiences or qualifications were most critical in securing your current role?

I've been told that my portfolio website is particularly well-presented (and I even teach a class now on building a portfolio website!) so that probably played a role. Having attractive-looking released games as a part of the portfolio showed that I could successfully navigate the game dev process and had the skills to persevere and create something fun and polished.

The college environment that I had as part of my 1-year diploma was crucial for getting me in touch with other students I could collaborate with as well as professors who had industry connections and could recommend me roles. So 1-year college was useful even though the curriculum and degree themselves never helped me much in getting the job.

Following up on my college capstone project, joining the 3-month Game n' Train program offered by the German Games Culture Foundation was a valuable addition to my portfolio, and also gave me experience working with people around the world - I realized I loved working with people from different countries and I didn't have to limit myself to just India when remote work was possible.

Having a presence on different platforms like Discord, Upwork, LinkedIn etc helped me - employers also want to get in touch with you, and if you have a visible presence it's easier to get found for a job, especially when starting out.

As for recommendations, I'd recommend the Indie Game Academy which is an online gamedev school that I sometimes teach at. It's a great way to get in touch with like-minded creative professionals to collaborate with, and they have courses that guide you through the process of making and releasing a polished game - which helps a lot with getting that first job. It's remote and something that anyone can do alongside a different job or while transitioning into the game industry, which makes it more practical for some people who can't realistically afford the financial commitment of 4-year college in a developed country. Plus it's run by amazing and kind game industry professionals with lots of networking experience.

I'd also recommend doing freelance work while job searching, when possible - if you do good work and are nice to work with, you can easily get recommended for a long-term position elsewhere. People often know people who know people.

What were some of the challenges you faced when trying to get into the industry, and how did you overcome them? Do you have any advice for individuals trying to get into your role?

The first challenge for me was education - while I did go to a college for a game dev diploma, I quickly realized that the curriculum being taught was very basic and wouldn't necessarily make me ready for the industry. I had to network with professors directly, take on some additional private assignments, and collaborate with other students outside of official projects to figure out how to make games well. The times spent coding in game jams or cafes were probably more useful to me than classroom hours.

The second challenge for me was finding a studio which wanted to make the kind of games that I wanted to make. Since India has a gaming industry heavily weighted towards gambling apps and free-to-play mobile, I felt like a misfit for wanting to make indie games that prioritized creativity and quality over financial KPIs. I was told repeatedly that it was unrealistic to want to make the kind of games I liked for a living.

I was lucky to have the privilege of being picky with the first job I took. I had spent around 3000$ in total on my diploma, and was not yet in a rush to pay it back. This allowed me to reject a few job offers from companies that paid well but wouldn't take me in the direction I wanted to go. Eventually I found an internship which didn't pay as well, but where I could use my creativity and have time for my personal projects as well.

The third challenge was to find a remote job with an indie studio abroad - because there were only a handful of good indie studios in India at the time. Lack of networking opportunities held me back for a while, and all my direct applications to these studios were ignored. It was easy for me to believe that I was being rejected because I wasn't good enough, or because applicants from other countries were intrinsically more qualified. It took some conversations with online gamedev friends from abroad to realize that it wasn't me who was lacking, just the lack of contacts and awareness making it harder for me to get noticed. Eventually I found a job I liked when the studio found my upwork profile, and wanted to get in touch for a long-term position.

My advice that I'd wish I'd known before:

  1. Make lots of games! Most of them will suck and that's entirely normal. But some of them will turn out great. And those great games make you credible enough to hire for anyone smart enough to notice them.
  2. Network a lot. Start social media pages, talk to people online, join local groups, do freelance work. I'm an introvert and tend to shy away from these things, but having a presence in game dev circles will get you noticed by the kind of people who want your talent and determination.
  3. You don't have to have the best skills in the world to be hired - you just have to be in the right place at the right time. Being sincere, responsible, and easy to talk to goes a very long way.

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